Showtime in La Rochelle

No one loves sailing the way the French love sailing. Theirs is an idiosyncratic maritime culture that’s bred some of the best sailors on the planet and some of the coolest boats too.
Author:
Publish date:
Updated on

No one loves sailing the way the French love sailing. Theirs is an idiosyncratic maritime culture that’s bred some of the best sailors on the planet and some of the coolest boats too. Each September, the in-water boat show in La Rochelle, the town with the most marina berths of any place in Europe, draws hundreds of exhibitors and tens of thousands of sailors. It’s a great place to check out not only the latest offerings from the big builders, but boats built by yards you may never have heard of…

Showtime! They cram them in tight here.

LR1

It was the first appearance for Jeanneau’s new Sun Fast 36, complete with jazzy graphics, twin rudders, and hard chines. That bow prod looks all business.

LR2

The Sun Fast 36’s cockpit is laid out for serious racing, with the accent on shorthanded sailing.

LR3

Here’s Dufour’s new 500, a well-thought-out performance cruiser with a retracting sprit and host of innovative features—including an optional barbecue concealed under the helm seat.

LR4

You could call the JPK line a French equivalent to J/Boats—except Js are also built in France. These fast racer-cruisers are optimized for shorthanded sailing, at which the French excel. The 10/10 here is the latest model; the plaque trumpets its racing successes.

LR5

I really liked the Pogo 12.50, a fast cruiser/racer that’s specced out for serious offshore sailing.

LR6

Here’s the Pogo 12.5 cockpit—check out that beamy rear end. Some surfing potential here…

LR7

Would you believe this is a plywood boat? Perhaps the long hard chine is giveaway. The RM range is strongly built of marine plywood sheathed in epoxy resin and fiberglass. Oh, and it has twin keels upon which it can dry out happily.

LR8

Room for a party in the RM 1360’s comfortable-looking cockpit; check out the Dyneema backstay.

LR9

Insert dinghy here: the beachable Malango 888 doesn’t need davits. It has twin rudders and a swing keel, and wind-down beaching legs that keep the rudders off the bottom when the tide goes out.

LR10

Here’s the little Malango 8.88 and its bigger sister, the 999, seen from a better angle. Pretty boats; I even like the graphics.

LR11

Don’t know if you can read the placard here, but the Revolution 22 is as interesting as it is ugly. It’s adapted from the scow-bowed Mini 6.5 that won a transatlantic race a couple of years back, and is built of aluminum as an indestructible pocket cruiser. Thanks to that full bow, there’s a surprising amount of room down below.

LR12

The photo doesn’t do it justice, but this was one of the prettiest boats at the show. The Optio is a new daysailer from Wauquiez, a yard known for its high-quality offshore cruisers. Below, there’s an enclosed head, a fridge, small galley, and a comfortable bunk for two. What more could you want?

LR13

Not quite trimaran, not quite monohull, the Astus Bay Dream is as cute as a button either way. Looks like a fun, stable little cruiser.

LR14

Much as I like Corsair and Dragonfly trimarans, it was great to see some other variations on the variable-beam theme. Daggerboards in the amas free up accommodation space in the Bandit 870’s center hull.

LR15

Don’t let the name or the gray paint mislead you—this lightweight flyer is no tank. The MC34 Patton has already cleaned up in some top regattas and interest was running high.

LR16

The Archambault 40, with its helms set well forward in the cockpit, looked well set-up for crewed and shorthanded racing.

LR17

Beneteau introduced its new open-plan Oceanis 38, a novel (and spacious) take on cruising design.

LR18

If you get tired of looking at new boats, there was a whole line-up of classics to admire, including Bernard Moitessier’s classic ketch Joshua.

LR19

And finally, back on shore, you could pick through heaps of diver’s helmets, binnacles, captain’s chairs, old navigation lights and other bric-a-brac for that perfect nautical accessory for your home…

LR20

Related

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com No chafe, safe stay  If you’re leaving the boat unattended for a longish period, there’s a lot to be said for cow-hitching the shorelines, as this sailor did. They’ll never let go, and so long as the ...read more

belize600x

Charter Special: Belize

It would be hard to imagine a more secure spot than the Sunsail base on the outskirts of the beachside community of Placencia, Belize. The entire marina is protected by a robust seawall with a channel scarcely a few boatlengths across. It’s also located far enough up Placencia ...read more

DSC00247

DIY: a Top-to-Bottom Refit

I found my sailing “dream boat” in the spring of 1979 while racing on Lake St. Clair in Michigan. Everyone had heard about the hot new boat in town, and we were anxiously awaiting the appearance of this new Pearson 40. She made it to the starting line just before the race ...read more

01-oysteryachts-regattas-loropiana2016_063

Light-air Sails and How to Handle Them

In the second of a two-part series on light-air sails, Rupert Holmes looks at how today’s furling gear has revolutionized sail handling off the wind. Read part 1 here. It’s easy to look at long-distance racing yachts of 60ft and above with multiple downwind sails set on roller ...read more

HanseCharles

Video Tour: Hanse 348

“It’s a smaller-size Hanse cruiser, but with some big-boat features,” says SAIL’s Cruising Editor, Charles J. Doane. At last fall’s Annapolis Boat Show, Doane had a chance to take a close look at the new Hanse 348. Some of the boat’s highlights include under-deck galleries for ...read more

amalfitown

Charter Destination: Amalfi Coast

Prego! Weeks after returning from our Italian flotilla trip last summer, I was still feeling the relaxed atmosphere of the Amalfi Coast. It’s a Mediterranean paradise, with crystal-clear waters, charming hillside towns and cliffside villages, plenty of delicious food and wine, ...read more

image005

Inside or Outside When Sailing the ICW

Last April, my wife, Marjorie, and I decided to take our Tartan 4100, Meri, north to Maryland from her winter home in Hobe Sound, Florida. This, in turn, meant deciding whether to stay in the “Ditch” for the duration or go offshore part of the way. Although we had both been ...read more

MK1_30542

SailGP: There’s a New Sailing Series in Town

San Francisco was the venue of the biggest come-from-behind victory in the history of the America’s Cup when Oracle Team USA beat Emirates Team New Zealand in 2013, so it seems only fitting that the first American round of Larry Ellison’s new SailGP pro sailing series will be ...read more